Health-Conscious Consumers Still Like QSRs

Published in CSP Daily News

74% have visited fast-food restaurant for lunch in past 30 days

NEW YORK -- Health-conscious consumers still can't resist the expanding healthy menu options or the convenience of quick-service restaurants (QSRs), according to a new study from local market consumer research firm Scarborough; 74% of these consumers visited a fast-food restaurant for lunch in the past 30 days.

Health-conscious consumers were defined as American adults who belong to a gym and buy local or organic food, make up 9% (21 million) of the American adult (age 18 and above) population.

Health-conscious consumers' choice of QSRs for lunch in the past 30 days differs from the preferences of the rest of American adults who have had fast food for lunch in the past 30 days:

Health-Conscious Consumers who have had fast food in the past 30 days are more than twice as likely as all American adults who have done the same to dine at Panera Bread for lunch in the past 30 days and 8% more likely to eat at Subway for lunch in the same time frame. Though they dine more at fast-food establishments that have healthy options, more than one-quarter (26%) of all health-conscious consumers dined at a fast-food restaurant at least 10 times in the past 30 days.

"This latest analysis reflects the enormous shift in the [QSR's] initiatives toward healthier menu options and branding," said Alisa Joseph, vice president of advertiser services for Scarborough parent company, Arbitron. "Fast-food companies feel pressure to change their messaging to a more health-conscious tone as they are aware that the average consumer is now more aware of the healthier menu options available. Though price point is still important to their core customers, healthy menu options within that price point will satisfy the customers they have as well as grow their health-conscious consumer segment."

In the past 12 months, 52% of health-conscious consumers who ate fast food for lunch in the past 30 days also attended a professional sports event. They are 86% more likely than all American adults to have gone jogging or running, 78% more likely to have gone bicycling and 60% more likely to have gone swimming. Nearly half (44%) have done volunteer work in the past 12 months, 38% have visited a casino and 37% have attended live theater.

Health-conscious consumers who dined at a fast-food restaurant for lunch in the past 30 days are 13% more likely than all other fast-food lunch diners to be female (58%) and they are 66% more likely to have at least a college degree; 61% of all health-conscious consumers are married and 41% have one or more children under the age of 17 in their household. They are 66% more likely than all fast-food lunch diners to have an annual household income of $100,000 or more. More than half (51%) of all health-conscious consumers who dined at a fast-food restaurant for lunch in the past 30 days hold white-collar employment.

The top 10 local markets for health-conscious consumers who have eaten at a quick service restaurant in the past 30 days for lunch are Denver (12% of adults), San Diego (11%), Rochester, N.Y. (11%), Baltimore (10%), San Francisco (10%), Portland, Ore. (9%), Seattle (9%), Colorado Springs, Colo. (9%), Hartford, Conn. (9%) and Austin, Texas (9%) (see File Attachment below for full list).

New York City-based Scarborough is a joint venture between Arbitron Inc. and The Nielsen Co.